Christmas 2011 comes at a difficult time, particularly for us Filipinos, and even for our own family.
Tonight, during the traditional 10:00 p.m. Christmas Vigil Mass at our parish church, and before “Noche Buena” at our parents’ home, I will say a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God for all the many blessings throughout the troubled year that was 2011. And I will also thank him for allowing me and our family to survive it all with grace, chutzpah, and even laughter. I end the year 2011 practically bedraggled, beset by all kinds of health problems, career delays and blocks, financial issues, looming dilemmas, etc. [ and even uberrich friends tell me they’re in the same boat…? 😛 ]. I still have the wherewithal but I’m not getting anywhere. In short, I’m a total mess. I don’t know if it has something to do with my being a second-decanate Capricorn with the ascendant and the Moon in Virgo, or being a Fire Horse. The rest of the family have it better, material resources intact as well, but I know that they too are just trying to get on as best as they can.
Inflation is unbelievable. I might as well live in New York, Paris, or London with these increasingly First World prices! One now needs 3X the money to live the life he has, posh, average, or poor. What one could buy for Php 10,000 you now need Php 30,000, for Php 100,000 you now need Php 300,000, for Php 1,000,000 you now need Php 3,000,000 and so forth and so on. I used to think that friends were bragging when they mentioned their staggering grocery bills at “Rustan’s” or “S & R,” but to my shock I’m not far off anymore…
There were just too many illnesses and deaths in our family and among our friends. Sally d.G., one of our comptrollers, developed cervical cancer. Former Supreme Court Justice Tito Camilo Q. [ maternal first cousin of my mother ] almost went blind. Tito Fras Quiason Reyes [ brother of my mother ], Tito Manoling Quiason Yap [ maternal first cousin of my mother ], Tita Sonia Callanta-Yap [ wife of Tito Garding, maternal first cousin of my mother ], Uncle Jack Davis Horrigan [ husband of Tita Martha, sister of my mother ] passed away in rapid succession from stroke, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and heart attack from 01 September – 05 October. Tito Josel Y. [ maternal first cousin of my mother ] developed prostate cancer but is in good spirits. Tita Ising V. [ mother of my good friend Marivic V. ] is fading off to Neverland. Tito Joe S. [ brother-in-law of my good friend Tita Regina A.-T. ] finally passed away after 2 years in the ICU of Makati Med just when Tita Carminia was excitedly getting ready for their 60th wedding anniversary. Tito Tony M. [ husband of my good friend Tita Nening P.-M. and father of my LSGH GS classmate Tonico M. ] has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and is at Makati Med; Tita Nening and family have decided to simply keep him comfortable to the last. Just before Christmas, Richie & Giging G. [ Giging is a good friend, a maternal first cousin of Johnny L., married to my cousin Rose R. ] lost their eldest son Javy in the wink of an eye to a massive heart attack. OhmyGod. [ I myself do not feel well: I am checking into Saint Luke’s after New Year’s day for 3 days of medical tests ].
On a perfectly sunny afternoon in early October following typhoons “Pedring” & “Quiel,” dam officials and managers let loose “excess” water from the Ipo, Angat, and Bustos dams [ without any kind of notification to the affected residents whatsoever; what were they thinking??? ] which forthwith flooded Calumpit, Bulacan and portions of our hometown of Apalit, Pampanga, our ancestral barrios of Sulipan and Capalangan among them. There was so much damage to property that wasn’t really reported by the newspapers. What do you tell people whose only possessions in life are a small TV, small refrigerator, a single gas burner stove, an electric fan, and a sleeping mat… or even less??? How would you feel if you were them?!
With the onset of the 9-day “Simbang Gabi,” typhoon “Sendong” came blowing over Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in northwestern Mindanao setting off unbelievable, disaster epic-type floods which caused the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people. It was a major, major tragedy. The whole nation is in shock.
And if all that was not enough, many businessmen have noticed that this year’s Christmas sales, like last year’s, as well as their annual 2010 & 2011 sales, are falling below the prosperous figures they had during the Arroyo presidency 2000-2010. An economic slowdown is already happening…
It is true what Roman Catholic priests say that if you base your celebration of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ — on material things, you are missing the point, as well as the fact that if you focus solely on those things without God’s guidance and blessings, you will never have enough to live the life of your dreams and ambitions anyway. Great “food for thought”…
Nonetheless, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012, Everyone!!!
Toto Gonzalez 🙂